The phone is on the desk. I need to turn off all the one hundred and one different sounds it makes for the calendar, SMS, and social apps. It’s now like a live thing with a mind of its own.
Talking about things and minds. It feels like the Dakar rally is going on inside my mind. Or maybe just the NASCAR.
The phone calls to me. It screams for me to pick it up. I resist as long as I can. But I always knew who or what would win the battle.
I pick up the phone.
I look at its blank face and wished my mind were just as blank as that. With no thoughts. No misgivings. Nothing. Empty like a wormhole that’s just come to life.
The contact book scrolls itself down to the magical letter. I had hoped it would not stop till it gets to letter Z. But who am I kidding. Not only did it stop at the right letter, it halted with “the” entry just off-screen – taunting me to swipe down the screen a little.
The phone whispered, “You know you want to.”
My forefinger hovered in the air. It twitched like an animal in its death throes. Maybe there is a spirit in it. It twitched again.
The finger made contact with the touchscreen. I watched in fascination as it swiped down in slow motion. I tried not to look at the screen, but resistance was futile.
There it was. The finger must have done a tap as well. It did have a life of its own. And a mind of its own. Because I never ordered that tap that opened up the contact’s details.
There used to be a picture in that box on the left. I removed it long ago. But I can still see it in my mind’s eye as if it was there staring back at me. Maybe it’s because the picture is still on my phone. In the memory stick – I just pretend I don’t know it is there.
All eleven digits. Reading it one by one. That took about 5 minutes. Or maybe I just read it over and over again for 5 minutes?
The green dial button whispered inaudibly. I couldn’t make out the words, but I heard them in my mind anyway: “Press me.”
It wouldn’t stop. It became irritating. I wished with all of my mind to make it stop. I begged it. I harangued it. I threatened to throw down the phone and grind it into the floor with the heels of my unshod feet. But it wouldn’t stop. It ignored me. It just kept whispering its 2 words.
I left the phone on the desk and went out of the room.
But the whispers continued. They weren’t coming from the phone: they had rooms in my mind.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I looked again at the numbers. If I press the dial button, would they suddenly become the 11 bullets in a weird gun I place against my head when I listen for the ringing at the other end to start?
The finger twitched again. It had a life of its own. It was in cahoots with the phone and the dial button. There was a conspiracy of epic proportions and it was all against me.
I felt the sweat trickle down my armpits. Despite the fact that the AC was going full blast, I was not even feeling cold: mind over matter.
It took all my will power to bring the finger under control. I was exhausted. But I had won.
I laid back on the bed and stared at the polka-dot patterns on the ceiling. I don’t know for how long. But it does not matter. Time does not matter. Nothing does.
The war goes on in Syria. Famine in Africa. Unrest in the Middle-East. Natural disasters in the northern hemisphere. Kidnappings just over the River Niger. Sad. It’s all sad. Very sad.
The phone whispered the word. “Sad”, it says. I knew where it was going. But it knew that I knew but that didn’t matter a bit. Because it was going to do what it was going to do.
I picked it up to silence it. I intended to switch it off. I don’t know if I pressed the SMS option or the phone did, but there it was on the screen.
My finger was over the power button. I almost succeeded. But I made the mistake and hesitated. Right at the bottom of the screen it read “3/157”. Which means I was 3 characters short of the 160 maximum I am allowed per SMS. I had not typed anything, so what was on the screen?
I had avoided looking at the face of the phone. But now there on the screen, the first letter of the SMS I had no plans to send, was the “sad face” smiley character.
The phone was taunting me. “You know you want to.”
“You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.” “You know you want to.”
I refused. I won’t. I will not.
I looked on in horror as the finger twitched over the send button. It was going to send the smiley-face character. I looked away and fought with all my will power. As my heartbeat returned to normal, I looked again at the screen. I had won. The SMS was still there, and even better, the smiley-face was gone. I pressed the back button and the phone presented me with options again: to cancel or to return to the SMS. I know what it wanted me to choose. But I cancelled all the same.
If this was a fair fight, I should have won now. Two rounds out of three. I shouldn’t have to fight the last round. All is fair in love and war.
Maybe in war, but not in love.
I didn’t call. I didn’t SMS. What else did it want from me!
I wished I had a Nokia 3310 instead of an Android – a droid is a robot. They are meant to obey humans. But this one has achieved awareness and there was nothing I could do about it. It has failed to obey the second fundamental law of robotics: Isaac Asimov would be proud.
Nokia 3310. No space for big icons. It would have been nice, for suddenly the big screen was filled with social media shortcuts: Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, Myspace, yourspace, ourspace, whosespace, who knows.
Round and round they went in a dizzying loop. Like Lollipops spinning round a little kid. All I needed to do was reach out and touch one. Make the connection. Leave a message. What can happen.
I closed my eyes tight. I could still see them. All those icons rushing round and round like on a merry-go-round. Reaching out, calling me, taunting me. “Pick me!!”, each one screamed!
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
Pure heart. Pure feelings. Pure desires. Pure wants. Pure needs. Pure … nothing.
Facebook won the musical chairs going on in my mind. I updated my status with some random thoughts that had nothing to do with anything. The phone was satisfied, but I did not post what it wanted me to. But it didn’t know that.
I had won.
Three times out of three.
I am supposed to be happy.